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The Department of Telecommunications to Seek Regulators Suggestions on Mobile Virtual Network Policy

May 27, 2014

The Indian telecom sector has been experiencing phenomenal growth during the past few years. The need to introduce mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) in the Indian Telecom Market is seen as a natural evolution towards augmenting free market principles and contributing to the efficient use of existing telecommunication infrastructure. Apart from offering customers a wider selection of services and value added services, MVNO will also serve to bring a wide range of novel scheme that will benefit the end customer.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has some ground rules to be clarified on how to introduce this in the new unified licensing regime. toward this, it is likely to seek TRAI recommendations on MVNO.

The DoT is of the opinion that the regulator needs to clarify operator sell services for national long distance, international as well as internet service provider services, all of which now fall under the unified licence.

In April 2011, TRAI had recommended that MVNOs be allowed to set up their own infrastructure and accomplish all obligations equaling to full fledged telecom operators. It, however, said they should not partner with more than one telecom operator within a district.

“Trai had given recommendations on MVNO on April 12, 2011. DoT may again request TRAI to give its recommendation on the entire issue of resale at service level under various service authorizations under Unified Licence,” said a DoT official.

It had said that a Unified License holder who does not possess spectrum should be allowed to work as MVNO but will cease to be in that category on procuring spectrum. The regulator had recommended that MVNOs be allowed to set up their own infrastructure and fulfill all obligations like a full-fledged telecom operator.

TRAI, however, had restricted that they should not partner with more than one telecom operator within a district.

DoT is likely to seek TRAI’s view on need and timing for introduction of new service provider terms and conditions. TRAI recommendation will be considered by DoT while preparing guidelines for MVNOs.

Richard Branson promoted that Virgin Group had started providing mobile services in partnership with telecom operator Tata Teleservices (News - Alert). Industry body COAI objected to the partnership between them and called Virgin mobile a MVNO, said agency reports.

Telecom license conditions did not allow MVNOs to operate in India. The DoT later gave clean chit to TTSL-Virgin Mobile (News - Alert) after scrutinizing deal but Virgin exited from partnership in 2011.

MVNO policy is one of the major policy initiatives that is yet to be sorted out and completed by the Indian Government.

Set up by the Government of India, the Department of Telecom deal with various aspects of     Telecommunications and has been formulating developmental policies for the accelerated growth of the telecommunication services in India. Established with effect from 20th February 1997 by an Act of Parliament, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regulates telecom services, including fixation/revision of tariffs for telecom services which were earlier vested in the Central Government. Key objective of TRAI is to provide a fair and transparent policy environment which promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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